Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)



First Advisor

Dr. Gregory Gimpel

Second Advisor

Dr. Likoebe Maruping

Third Advisor

Dr. Lynn Wu



Leading a remote workforce and managing remote teams, from the perspective of remote teams necessitates a nuanced approach, contrasting considerably what is needed in traditional in-office settings. With the global surge in remote- and hybrid-work arrangements, it is imperative to develop theoretical frameworks to better understand the phenomenon and to identify best-practices that can be implemented by practitioners.

Design / Methodology / Approach:

This study recognizes that managing and leading may at time overlap but are distinct concepts. Therefore, this study conducts two distinct studies. The first focuses on how to manage remote and hybrid employees. It consists of interviews with twenty people who manage remote or hybrid employees and applied an abductive approach to identifying an appropriate prescriptive theory and identifies best practices for managers to follow. The second study is a qualitative case study that investigates how the CEO of a staffing firm led his team of hundreds of employees as they temporarily, then permanently shifted from in-office work to fully remote work. The case study takes an exploratory approach that consists of in-depth interviews, human resources reports, and financial reports.


This dissertation finds that situational leadership theory (SLT) provides a highly useful and relevant theory for research into managing remote and hybrid employees. It also finds that SLT, as previously envisioned, makes the presumption that managers can identify the needs of the people they manage. Study data suggest that this presumption may not hold true when a manager is new to a particular context, such as someone experienced managing in person teams who must now manage remote teams. To overcome this, this research proposes that a dimension of managerial experience be added to situational leadership theory, providing an incremental but pragmatic extension of the theory. The study also provides practical guidelines for how to manage remote and hybrid employees based on participants’ interview data. This dissertation finds that changing the modality of work (i.e. from in-person to remote) represents a major organizational change. To successfully change an organization, the people working within the organization must also change.

Theoretical Contributions:

This dissertation extends situational leadership theory beyond its focus on the skills- and commitment-based maturity of the person being managed to also include the maturity of the manager, which is based on his or her experience managing people within a specific context. It assesses the validity of the extended theory by assessing three properties: the integration of the model’s elements (i.e., logical coherence), the extension’s relative explanatory power, and its practical and theoretical relevance. This research study brings the theory of liminality (aka rite-of-passage theory) to the study of remote work. It also brings the complete 3-stage rite-of-passage process to the study of organizational change and digital transformations. As such, it makes an incremental contribution to the study of organizational change management and to the theory of liminality.

Practical Contributions:

This dissertation provides normative guidelines for managers who are supervising a remote and hybrid workforce. It also provides specific steps and actions senior executives can take to lead their employees through a rite of passage that can transform employees along with a transforming organization.


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Available for download on Sunday, February 16, 2025